Sunday, February 25, 2018

Netanyahu To Invite Trump To Inaugurate U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem In May - U.S. Embassy Move Will Have Long Term Ramifications

Netanyahu to invite Trump to inaugurate US embassy in Jerusalem in May

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to invite US President Donald Trump to Israel in May to inaugurate the US embassy, which Washington announced on Friday will be relocated to Jerusalem on Israel’s Independence Day, Hadashot TV news reported on Saturday.
In a video statement posted to his social media channels on Saturday night, Netanyahu said the US announcement to relocate the embassy, which follows Trump’s historic declaration in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, marked a “great moment for the State of Israel.”
“The decision by President Trump to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem on the coming Independence Day, will make the celebrations even more joyful,” said Netanyahu.
“Thank you President Trump, thank you for your leadership, and your strong friendship,” Netanyahu added.
The US State Department notified Congress on Friday that the Jerusalem embassy will open in May, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence.
The State Department confirmed the timing of the move, with an official telling The Times of Israel: “The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona [in south Jerusalem], on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem. At least initially, it will consist of the ambassador and a small team.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned for mid-May. Israel proclaimed independence on May 14, 1948. According to Channel 10 and Hadashot news, the ceremony could be held on May 14 to honor that date. (Israel celebrates its anniversary of independence according to the Hebrew calendar; Independence Day — Yom Ha’Atzmaut — falls on April 19 this year.)
The Palestinian Authority responded in anger to the news, and said “unilateral” moves will not contribute to achieving peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

Hamas, for its part, warned that the decision would lead to an “explosion” in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded US President Donald Trump as a “great friend” at Sunday’s cabinet meeting and said Washington’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem will have significant, long-term ramifications.

“This is a great moment for the citizens of Israel and this is a historic moment for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said of Trump’s unexpected decision on Friday to move the embassy to Jerusalem in stages, beginning in May to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

“On behalf of the entire government and people, I would like to thank President Trump for both his leadership and his friendship,” Netanyahu said.

“President Trump, you are a great friend of the State of Israel and we all thank you.”

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Trump next Monday in the White House for their fifth meeting since Trump took office in January 2017, and is expected to invite him to take part in the ceremony opening the embassy in May.

In the first stages, the embassy – which will be housed in the American consulate building in the capital’s Arnona neighborhood and will continue to carry out consular functions – will hold only the offices of US Ambassador David Friedman and a small staff. By the end of next year, the intention is to open an embassy annex on the Arnona compound that will provide Friedman and his staff with expanded interim office space.

And in parallel, a search has begun for a site to house a permanent embassy in the city, whose planning and construction is expected to take a number of years.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, during a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations last week before Washington’s announcement, said Israel was currently in discussion with 10 other countries about moving their embassies. She did not name them.

The UN General Assembly resolution in December that condemned the US for its step to recognize Jerusalem specifically called upon “all states to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city of Jerusalem.”

No comments: